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RAF Start Talks on E-3D Replacement

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RAF Start Talks on E-3D Replacement

Old 26th Jan 2020, 20:06
  #161 (permalink)  
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AW&ST:Royal Air Force Sends AWACS to Storage in U.S.

The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has sent one of its Boeing E-3D Sentry airborne early warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft for storage in the U.S. as it shrinks its operational fleet. The aircraft departed the UK on Jan. 15 and has since arrived at Lake Charles’ Chennault Airport, Louisiana, enthusiast reports suggest.

Chennault and its Northrop Grumman facility have handled RAF E-3s before, conducting wing repairs on one of the fleet in 2012. Northrop Grumman has been supporting the UK E-3D fleet since 2005, providing aircraft maintenance and design-engineering support services.

The UK Defense Ministry said the aircraft had been flown to the U.S. and delivered to a ministry contractor, where it will be “protected from the U.S. winter and undergo anti-deterioration maintenance delivered under an existing contract.” Officials add that while in the U.S., “a number of sale options will be explored by the Defense Equipment Sales Authority.”

The UK originally purchased seven Boeing E-3D Sentry airborne early warning aircraft in the 1980s—the last 707s built—but a lack of investment over the last decade has left the fleet struggling to maintain reliability and relevance in light of evolving threats.

The RAF announced in October 2018 it would proceed with replacing the E-3Ds with five Boeing E-7 Wedgetails, the Australian derivative of the 737-700-based airborne early warning platform also in service with South Korea and Turkey. The Wedgetails are expected to enter RAF service in 2022-23, with much of the conversion work to be done by UK defense maintenance, repair and overhaul company Marshall of Cambridge.

With the E-7 purchase announced, the E-3D fleet was shrunk to four aircraft. It is unclear whether the Sentry flown to Louisiana is one of the four operational aircraft or one of the two withdrawn aircraft. One of the seven has already been largely dismantled and sits engineless and radarless at its home base of RAF Waddington, England.
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